A few things Francis Chan’s Crazy Love has taught me.

If you know me in real life, there’s not a lot you may know about me currently. I’ve been Facebook and Instagram free for awhile now and it’s felt, well, wonderful. I met a woman yesterday, and we were talking about a homeschool group that’s exclusively on Facebook and she made the quiet comment that she’s not on Facebook, expecting me to give her the “ARE YOU INSANE, LADY???” look but when I said I wasn’t on Facebook either, our eyes locked and it was like we were transferred back in time to a period where people actually took two seconds to truly know each other. It was refreshing. So what have I been doing? Homeschooling my daughter, for one. It’s been an amazing roller coaster ride of perfect moments shuffled in with the imperfect ones (think a Vegas card dealer who doesn’t know what he’s doing). But overall, a great experience and the way she looks at books now is the exact way I look at books. So mission accomplished. I’ve also been writing. I’ve given up on novels, and I’m allowing myself to be okay with that. I know. How dare I. But every time I attempt one, I frustrate myself, and if the end result of me trying to write one is me being angry with the world, then I think I’ll pass. I have, however, been writing poetry. I have, however, grown in my relationship with God and have struggled with the idea that I am a Christian. I’m not a fan of your typical Christian who enjoys their Starbucks lattes, oversized SUVs, and smacking an “I Vote Republican” sticker on the back of their bumper. So you can imagine that having to say those words out loud is a little like biting off my own tongue. But I AM a follower of Christ and have seen how He changes lives, my own included. Thankfully, Fancis Chan is a reasonable, logical Christian and I kind of just love what he has to say in his book Crazy Love:
Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label Christian or beacuse some people persist in calling us a “Christian nation.” – Francis Chan, Crazy Love
That noise? I do believe it was the mic dropping. Dude. YES. For the longest time I didn’t want anything to do with Christianity because I thought it meant I had to be like the typical smug American Christian. And maybe that’s not fair, but you have to admit there’s A LOT of them walking around. But you know what’s wrong with my assessment of people like this? They’re not Christians. They may call themselves that. But they’re not. Something else I’m taking from Chan’s book is the fact that I must ALWAYS be running towards God and self-assessing my own life. If I get too fat and happy, I’m doing it wrong. So really, this whole country is doing it wrong. You can’t love Christ and your big screen TV. You have to take up your cross and follow Him. And if you’re not going to do that, then okay. But stop calling yourself a Christian. It’s just getting embarrassing at this point.

I know, no social media, and I get all up in arms about everything. But I promise I’m not cranky. I’m just finally getting IT.

So now, a prayer. That all of us walking this path can find love in Christ. In others. That we stop kidding ourselves, believing the safe path is the best path. If things aren’t confusing, uncomfortable, or the opposite of everything you’ve ever wanted, it’s time to pray. To find out what God truly wants. And to set aside those creature comforts and your need to prove yourself to other people in order to prove yourself to the only One who matters.

A low-cal social media diet.

social media image
Every once in a while I take my life’s pulse.

Simply put, I scan for areas of improvement and start working on the better version of me.

(Blame Oprah.)

I’ve recently found one such area that I’m tweaking (twerking? hahaha…no), and I’m already feeling oodles better: my social media life.

My teeth are rotting. Help.

I hate Facebook and Instagram. There, I said it. And I know, I know, you’re all like, “But Ericka, you’re a social media maven with slightly decent hair and a Romanesque nose that just won’t quit.” And yeah, maybe the old me was. But now?

I’m tired. I just want to live. I want to stop comparing my life to others’. I want to stop inwardly seething at blatant political posts and getting all frazzled, not because somebody I know has a particular political mindset, but because they’d much rather exercise their right to incessantly chatter into an online void instead of realizing how it might make others feel. I’m also tired of taking photos of my sandwiches.

This me, me, me generation is starting to rot my teeth, you guys. And frankly, my soul.

And I don’t want to add to it.

Let’s start a different conversation.

When it boils down to it, I think blogging gives me the freedom to fully express what’s dancing between the sheets of my brain. Instagram and Facebook are just tiny nuggets of truth, and half the time, they’re not even that truthful.

Do you know how many times it takes me to snap a selfie? 72. And that doesn’t even include choosing a filter.

Here’s my truth: my skin isn’t always clear, sometimes I’m a little hungover, I snap at my kid, I snap at my husband, I love them more than my heart can take, I fail God like I’m Judas Iscariot’s twin sister Jane, and I don’t always shave my legs.

But I’m still loved and accepted and don’t need to worry about mindless swiping, mindless likes to make me whole.

Know thyself.

If you’re eyeing my home page right now, you’ll see links to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. For me, these don’t count. I’m never on them and if I do happen to take a stroll down Pinterest lane, I’m probably looking up 5 million ways aloe is going to turn me into Jennifer Lopez (I’ll keep you posted).

You gotta know what’s working and what’s hacking at your inner peace with a chainsaw.

And for me? Those channels barely tickle.

Challenge time.

So if you want to chat with me, human being to human being, I invite you to check out this page and send me your inner thoughts. I’d like to get to know you while having absolutely no clue what your lunch looks like.

(Oprah would be proud.)

Oh and one more thing. Which social media channel do you need to give the ax to?

What a Writer Is

No coasters, bitches!!!
No coasters, bitches!!!

If you go on Twitter, you already know what a writer is: a fierce, stalking animal that eats words and breathes beautifully wrought sentences.

There are no bathroom breaks, snack breaks, blow your nose into your hanky breaks. There is only you and your computer in a dimly lit room, burning cigarette jammed in your mouth and tumbler full of vodka on your desk, no coaster.

You don’t have time for fucking coasters.

And for a long, long, long time, I too, believed this is what a writer is. In fact, I lamented the fact that I didn’t smoke, and even toyed with the idea of taking it up. Me. Yogi Ericka, enjoying herself a cancer stick.

The absurdity!

It’s part of the reason why I’ve been dialing back my relationship with social media. There is always the picture of what you should be doing and how you should be doing it.

And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being told what the fuck to do.

So I decided to rethink my life, and in rethinking my life, I’ve started to rethink my writing career. And here are the nuts and bolts of it:

  • I don’t always write, but I’m still a writer. Your brain needs breaks sometimes. Your body needs sleep. Your soul needs friends and good food and time to recalculate. Don’t sacrifice your body for your work because your work will suffer, too.
  • Sometimes a novel needs a little breathing room. I like to think of writing as an art. And I’ve never known an artist to rush their masterpiece. I don’t necessarily link being prolific to being good. And I make it a habit to always choose good over anything else.
  • Guilt can shove a pointed spoon up its arse. You didn’t write today? No worries, my friend. Sucking on that guilt lozenge won’t force the words to come any faster. Trust me.

Listen: do you. Be you. If sucking on cancer sticks, drinking your vodka and banging out words is your thing, then high five my friend and put a bird on it.

But if you exist somewhere outside of the “writer’s box” like little ‘ol me, no sweat. There’s room for you and your beautiful face.

At least I still don’t use coasters, right?

How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Book

Book synopsis
I posted the synopsis of my book onto Instagram, tagged the sucker and got 25 likes – 25 new peeps who are interested in the premise!

First step: Google “how to use Instagram to promote your book.”

Okay, not really.  I do have a few pieces of advice to offer about Instagram seeing that I’m relaunching my personal brand and trying to do this “published author” thing right.  Plus, who doesn’t love pictures of me?  Nobody.  That’s who.

What I love about Instagram’s particular social media space is that it’s a wonderfully visual punch in the face and gives authors a new way to express themselves, particularly in a way that captures the attention of that notorious “I don’t read books” sect.

“Now why, as an author, would I want to network with non-readers?”

Because at this point in the game, you’re trying to spread the message about the wonderful words you’ve given birth to, and non-readers are just as apt at spreading messages online as thier bilbiophilic counterparts.  Plus, you may be able to sway them to pick up your book if you do this Instagram thing right. #TrickeryISAwesome

Tips and Tricks for Promoting Your Book Through Instagram

  • Style: I’ve had an Instagram since before most people even knew what Instagram was.  That’s not bragging as much as it’s a declaration of how much I love selfies.  Really though, I walked into the whole Instagram scene saying stuff like “I love pictures of my face!!” without actually thinking through ways I could use the platform to further my career.  Now that I’m taking a new approach, I’ve decided to style my Instagram in a uniform way by choosing one filter for all of my photos.  I use the Lo-Fi filter, and I’ve found that it gives my account a uniform look and makes my ordinary photos look pretty snazzy.
  • Consistency:  Like every other social media platform, it’s good to stay consistent.  Consistency keeps your name (and your book) fresh in your followers minds and they know what to look forward to and expect.  If you post once every year, you’ll probably get a few unfollows and that’s no good for business.
  • Profile:  Completely fill out your profile so potential followers know exactly who you are.  And why not link your book in your profile info while you’re at it?
  • Tags: Did you know there are certain tags you should be using to gain more followers?  Sites like #TagsForLikes give you the lowdown on the best tags to use for your pics.  Not only that, but under the “Entertainment Tags” link, they list the perfect tags for books.
  • Apps:  #TagsForLikes has an app you can use so you can appropriately tag your pics straight from your phone.  Plus there are other apps like PicStitch (allows you to make and publish picture collages to Instagram) and Repost (useful for reposting photos published by other Instagrammers).  Some of the most useful apps (in my humble opinion) are ones that deal with text.  Apps like Textcutie allow you to add text to your photos while others like PicsArt and Textgram lets you design an actual text image – useful tools when wanting to send out a message via Instagram about your book.  As for helpful online applications, Statigram allows you to access and manage your account right from your computer!
  • Followers: Networking through Instagram can be as simple as following your favorite bookstore and commenting on their pics.  You never know where striking up a conversation may lead – perhaps your book on their shelves or a hosted giveaway for your novel.
  • Contests:  I haven’t hosted an Instagram contest yet, but I’ll definitely be brainstorming one when my novel comes out early next year.  Instagram contests not only spread the word about your book, but can help boost your following.  And the text apps play perfectly into these because you can add a few contest deets to your pics or even a specified hashtag potential entrants must post in order to enter.  Here’s a little contest inspiration to get your gears turning!

So I’ve practically written a novel about Instagram, and I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg.  Let us know how you are using Instagram to promote your literary awesomeness in a comment below!

The “M” Word


There’s a fine balance between writing and marketing yourself.

Actually for me, there’s hardly any balance at all.

I think I talk about myself too much.  Scratch that.  I KNOW I talk about myself too much, but I do it because I’m conditioned to.

I started a new Facebook page and now I have another pothole to fill up with Ericka goodness when I all want to do is write and take a nap and nap and write a little and then maybe see my family and let my dogs outside to piss.

So here’s what I’m going to allow myself: a cozy little room on the Internet.  This space, the FB, the twitter, and all the other noise I’m churning out on a daily basis doesn’t have to be gargantuan.  It can be small and warm and reflect me perfectly without boasting five different floors.  The windows can be dirty, the tile cracked, as long as it contains my honest heart.

I’ve created a beautifully crafted Internet house for myself, practically a mansion, with Tipsy Lit.  It’s bigger than anything I ever thought possible and seems to be growing every day.  And when I think of building my brand as an author to, at the very least, rival what I (and countless others…believe me) have done with TL, I get exhausted and cranky and want to make that nap thing happen as fast as humanly possible.

I’m tired of talking about myself.  Sometimes, I’m tired of myself in general.  So what I want to offer are my stories, my beautifully broken characters.  Letters and lines mouthed into sounds that have nothing to do with me.

Because frankly, I’m tire of the “m” word.